Saturday, December 16

Jonathan Rea Sports Personality of the Year 2017 - How to vote

It's harder to retain a championship than to win one, but to claim 3 on the bounce at World level is an incredible accolade to achieve.

We believe that Johnny Rea deserves far more recognition than he gets and that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2017 is another trophy that belongs to him.

If you agree, you can use an online account to register your vote. Use the link below.

We believe you should!

Causeway image courtesy of Steven Davison

Sunday, December 10

Derek Sheils Pre-Macau Interview

AQ: When do you get to Macau?

DS: I leave on the Wednesday before practice week.

AQ: And when will you actually get track time?

DS: Should get out on the Friday.

AQ: What’s the format for practice with cars also involved in the race?

DS: They literally wait for first light in the morning; they line you up on pit lane as soon as it’s bright and let you off. You’re up at 4.30am! Down to the paddock in the dark, getting things ready and waiting to get out.

AQ: Who’s travelling with you from the team?

DS: John Burrows, Matty Dickson, Simon Otterson and John McGovern, so almost a full team from home coming all the way over. It’s a big commitment from their side to be here for the race.

AQ: The circuit itself is not like anything we have over here to compare to as in it’s very built up. I.e. Armco and barriers everywhere, can you really let loose on it?

DS: It’s really like any road race; you ride to a certain level. The surface over there is very good, there’s very little bumps so you can ride as hard as you dare! I don’t think personally that it’s any more dangerous than any other road race. Ya know, people say it is with armco barriers everywhere but, I can’t say that it is. You’ve less houses, piers, stone walls, gravel manhole covers. It’s a really enjoyable place to ride where you can really ride as hard as you dare but, still staying within your limits.

AQ: You’ll be GSXR shod then again, went well for you there last year?

DS: Yeah, it’s a good bike, it goes well there. We just didn’t get it setup sweet last year, the bike then started giving me arm pump which towards the end of the race left me hanging on for dear life. But the lads have it written down what setting we hard for the race last year, so we can start from there.

AQ: The operation for arm pump should help you too

DS: Yeah we’ll jump on, suck it and see where are and hopefully build from there.

AQ: Frohburg, a new track to you that you went really well there and on a new bike. IRRC Superbike Championship winner Sebastien Le Grelle was really quick out there but, yet straight away you were able to run with the top guys. How did you manage that?

DS: To be honest, I found the track easy enough to learn. I was straight away looking for places to knock off a second or two instead of trying to remember the rights from the lefts! The bike was very different to what I was used to, the electronics was massive but, there was basically an electronics guy from BMW who was changing suspension settings, auto-blipper settings. It was a lot to take on as well as the team using different tyres than I was used to. I just tipped away not changing too much, just making small changes and they all made small improvements which meant I could just keep on chippin’ away. Which was good as the pace with Sebastien and all the front runners was pretty hot! Very happy to come away with two 2nd’s and two 4th’s. It’s a quick track, very smooth with plenty of run off, (cropped fields on both side of you), so you literally ride the bike as hard as you would somewhere like Mondello park or Kirkistown!

AQ: Speaking of short circuits, you being a double Irish Masters champion, we didn’t see much of you?

DS:  I’d like to, it’s great racing. Great depth of field. I’d love to have another cut at it. It’s a huge expense though, even in the Masters with the 3 tyre rule, if I had a bad day it would leave a huge hole in my pocket. It’s prize money that keeps me racing so I can’t factor it in and risk firing the bike up the road. I’ve had some great ding-dongs at it though. I’d like to but, at the minute it just not feasible.

AQ: Thanks for your time and all the best with next year’s plans.

DS:  Cheers!

Images (c) Andy Quinn

Friday, December 8

Team109 triples future investment in Irish racers abroad

Team109 have completed their line-up for the 2018 season, announcing the return of Kevin Keyes in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship alongside a two rider team in the new Junior Supersport class. The ambitious expansion into the Supersport class will feature reigning Irish and Masters Supersport Cup and Production Twin champion, Eunan McGlinchey and reigning Irish and Masters Aprilia 125 champion, Brendan Glover, onboard Kawasaki machinery.
Team109 was founded in memory of former Irish racer Sean Hurley to give young riders from Ireland an opportunity to showcase their talent in the British Championship. The team was launched in 2015 with a single rider team in the KTM RC Cup class in its first two seasons of competition, before adding the Superstock class to their line-up. Now, in just their fourth season competing in the British Championship, this will be the first campaign with a three rider squad.

Keyes will make a return to action in the Superstock 600 class onboard the Kawasaki following a season of consistent finishes at the end of the season including a fifth place finish at Oulton Park, in addition to a top ten finish at the final round at Brands Hatch.
Keyes said: “I’m so happy to be back in the British Championship once again in 2018, and I am also very excited to be coming back with Team109. I’m really looking forward to getting back on my Team109 Kawasaki and pushing as hard as I can to further the progress I made this year. I have to say a huge thanks to both David Hurley and Paul Tobin for giving me the opportunity again, and I hope I can do them proud.”
The new Junior Supersport class will see both McGlinchey and Glover make their series debuts in the British Championship arena, after success back home in Ireland.
McGlinchey said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to ride for Team109. I had a really good year racing at home winning the Supersport Cup and Production Twin Championships. I can’t thank everyone at Team109 and all of their sponsors enough for giving me this opportunity. Racing in the British Championship is something I am really looking forward to, and hopefully I can repay the team for their belief in me by getting them some good results, and if all goes well hopefully try and win.”
Glover added: “I’m so happy to be onboard with Team109 for next season, it’s a great team and I hope I can achieve some good results for them next season. Racing in the 125 class in Ireland for two years really helped me develop and progress, and I feel going over to the BSB paddock at such a young age, with such a good team behind me will also help me get better.

“The Junior Supersport class is going to be tough, I will be up against a lot of good riders who will also be a lot older than me, but I’m confident I can improve throughout the year and hopefully get some good results for the team.”
The contenders also have the support of Be Wiser Ducati rider Glenn Irwin, who remains the team ambassador for the forthcoming season, continuing his role of mentoring the team’s young riders.
Irwin said: “It’s great for me to be involved with Team109. I believe 2018 is going to be a huge year for the team, the three pronged attack they have put together for this year includes some of the best young riders from all over Ireland and I feel they will bring a lot of success to the team given the time and support, which they are sure to get from this team.”

Team Owner Dave Hurley commented: “I am absolutely delighted with the three riders we have for next season and I believe we have some of the very best young riders in the country. I think we have a strong team across the board with Brendan being an excellent young prospect for the future, and between Kevin and Eunan I think we could potentially have two title challengers in their respective classes for next season. To do what we have done in just the space of four years is a testament to all the lads within the team.”
Words and images courtesy of Team 109

Thursday, December 7

2018 Dunlop Masters series announced

Masters Superbike Championship announces Dunlop partnership

Mondello Park and Dunlop Tyres are delighted to announce a new partnership which will see Dunlop become the title sponsor of the Masters Superbike Championship for the next three years. As part of the deal, Dunlop will become the sole supplier of Tyres to the Masters Superbike and Supersport classes and the championship will be named the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship.

Having had a long association with Mondello Park, right back to its opening event in 1968, the circuit's management are delighted to welcome Dunlop back for 2018, which will be the fiftieth anniversary for the County Kildare venue.

Dunlop, who also supply control tyres to the Moto2 World Championship, will not only provide tyres to the series but will also bring extensive technical support to each round. The Masters Championship will also benefit from marketing assistance from the tyre manufacturer as well as an extensive prize fund in the form of €5,000 worth of free tyres.

The introduction of a control tyre to the Masters came at the suggestion of the competitors who were looking to reduce costs and level the playing field for all. As part of the new deal, competitors will continue to be restricted to three tyres per event but now those tyres will be supplied to them at a cost of just £265+vat per set, a considerable discount, which will only be available to registered Masters competitors for use in Masters Championship races.

Speaking on the announcement of the Dunlop Masters sponsorship, Mondello Park General Manager Roddy Greene said, “It's great to be able to announce this partnership with Dunlop, they have long been associated with Mondello Park and it’s great to have them back at the circuit. The Masters Superbike Championship is the premier short circuit racing series in Ireland and the addition of Dunlop as the title sponsor will strengthen this. Dominic and the team at Dunlop have a wealth of experience and we are really looking forward to working with them over the next three years. We have some really exciting development plans for the Masters and it’s great to have Dunlop on board for these exciting times.“

Dominic Clifford of Dunlop also said “We are delighted to re-establish our Partnership with Mondello Park as the Tyre supplier for the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship. Riders will be using Dunlop race winning KR slicks and the new D213 GP Pro, road legal race tyre. It is an exciting new phase for the Championship and Dunlop is proud to be the tyre supplier.“

The Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship will take place over seven two day events between March and October 2018. Further information on plans for the championship will be released over the coming weeks.

Fergus Brennan, Masters Superbike Championship (left) & Clinton Howe, Goodyear Dunlop Motorsport (right)

For championship information see or follow the championship on facebook.

Motorcycling Ireland to support Young Irish Racers

Following some impressive performances during 2017 Rhys Irwin from Donegal has been announced as the first recipient of support from a new initiative by Motorcycling Ireland's Short Circuit Committee and Motorcycling Ireland, which aims to help young Irish racers to develop their talent and further their careers internationally.

For 2018 Rhys Irwin will be the first young Irish rider to have use of a Honda Moto3 bike, which has been purchased by Motorcycling Ireland, in preparation for his debut in the new British Talent Cup. The bike will also be made available to other young Irish riders in advance of future British Talent Cup selection events, with all riders chosen to take part being given time on the bike as preparation for the selection day. Any rider who makes it through to the full 2019 championship will be then given more extensive access to the bike.

The newly arrived Honda Moto3 machine was officially handed over to Rhys earlier this week by Eamonn Medlar of the MCI Short Circuit Committee and the Donegal teenager will have his first outing on the bike in Spain in just over a week's time. The Spanish test session will mark the beginning of Rhys's preparations for the 2018 British Talent Cup where he will be the only Republic of Ireland representative amongst twenty two of the best young racers from the British Isles

The British Talent Cup will take Rhys to Britain, Holland and Spain as he races free of charge for a place in the MotoGP paddock. The championship for identical Honda Moto3 bikes, similar to the Motorcycling Ireland example, will support MotoGP, World Superbike and British Superbike races.

While the British Talent Cup organisers will provide the bikes which all of the riders in the championship will race, the MCI bike will allow Rhys to build up his knowledge and experience of the Moto3 machine prior to the start of the season. The teenager will also use the bike to keep himself sharp in between Talent Cup races, and this extra mileage will be invaluable in helping him make the most of his opportunity.

Speaking on the handover of the Moto3 bike Eamonn Medlar said “we are delighted to be able to do this for Rhys and future British Talent Cup participants. It's really important that Rhys gets as much track time as possible prior to racing, as all of his competitors will be doing the same. Buying this bike is a fantastic use of our limited resources and allows us to make our money go a lot further in a much more structured way than just supporting young racers financially. We're looking forward to seeing Rhys progress through the season and to seeing who will be next to follow in his footsteps.”

Rhys Irwin also had the following to say, “from the time I was selected for the 2018 Talent Cup we immediately started looking into how we could get as much time on a Moto3 bike as possible. We could just about afford to buy one but then running it would have been a strain so to have Motorcycling Ireland provide us with this machine is an incredible boost. I'll be able to get plenty of track time now, starting next week, prior to the Talent Cup pre-season test at Valencia in March. During the year I will also compete in the BSB Moto3 Standard class and the CEV Junior World Championship to keep myself sharp and I really feel that this will make all the difference to my Talent Cup chances.”

Words: Fergus Brennan

Wednesday, December 6

MCI Short Circuit Committee pull back from running Irish Championship events

Following a long period of discussion the Short Circuit Committee of Motorcycling Ireland (MCI) have taken the decision not to run any Irish Championship race meetings during 2018. The decision has not been taken lightly and is seen as the best way of securing the future of Short Circuit Motorcycle Racing under MCI's jurisdiction.

Following consultation with MCI riders more than two years ago, the Short Circuit committee agreed to comply with riders requests by seeking to reduce the number and frequency of Irish Championship rounds. During 2016 and 2017, the MCI Short Circuit Committee tried, through the MCUI Commission, to restructure the Irish Championship so that there would be less rounds, a minimum of two weekends between rounds and no more than one event per month in either centre.

As the MCI Short Circuit committee was unable to reach any agreement with the MCUI Ulster Centre it has, with regret, decided not to apply for any rounds of the Irish Championship in 2018. MCUI rules state that for a series to be ratified as a National Championship there has to be an equal number of rounds in each centre, unless each centre agrees to the in-balance. With a maximum of three events in the Southern Centre and ten planned for the Ulster Centre the gap was too big for an agreement to be reached. This means that there will be no Irish Championship in 2018.

The changes for 2018 will mean that Southern Centre events can be restructured to allow flexibility in the programme not achievable under Irish Championship regulations, leading to better value and service for competitors. A centralised, fully automated, on-line entry system will make event information and entries more readily available, while the championship will run over seven events, evenly spaced across the calendar. All events will now benefit from the promotional activities which are available through the Masters Superbike Championship.

The development of Short Circuit Racing on the Island of Ireland needs a co-ordinated approach which benefits both MCUI centres. The MCI Short Circuit Committee are committed to finding a workable championship structure which can achieve this. If in the future a fairer and more manageable calendar and championship format can be achieved the committee would be happy to return to scheduling Irish Championship events. 

Friday, December 1

Jack Kennedy signs for Team Appleyard Macadam Racing

Good news for JK

"Christmas has come early, and we're proud to announce that coming on board for Team Appleyard Macadam in 2018 is none other than... Jack Kennedy!

Jack Kennedy Racing will be joining Brad Jones in the team line-up for next year with official backing from Yamaha Motor UK.

He will also be joining Keith Farmer and Brad at our next 'Evening with' event on Friday 15th December - places are still available to join us:

Jack commented: "I’m very happy to be joining Appleyard Macadam Integro for 2018, thanks to Robin and Yamaha for the opportunity. I really think we can put a strong campaign together and compete for the title.

On a personal note, it was good to be winning races in British Supersport again this season but consistency is the key to winning a championship and I feel this package can offer me that 2018. I can’t wait to get going on the new Yamaha R6 in testing in Spain in January!”

We can't wait for the start of the new season!"

Words and images courtesy of Team Appleyard Macadam Racing

Alan Bonner Memorial Night raises €45000

The recently held Alan Bonner Memorial night proved that the racing community can really pull together to help a fallen rider, and the City North Hotel was packed to the rafters.

Speaking to Kev Gosson from the organizing committee, he was delighted with the turn out and said, “The organizing committee would like to thank everyone who bought tickets, donated auction items, donated raffle items and gave donations. We would also like to thank everyone who turned up on the night. It was a fantastic success.  The total raised was €45,000”

“This was an amazing amount of money and it just shows how generous people are on such sad occasions like this. There were over 800 tickets alone sold for the night, coupled with the raffle, online auction, the house auction, and the silent auction, the total definitely surprised us all.”

Most of the funds raised will go towards the future education of Alan's daughter Nicole.

From the Jack Corry column

Well done to all involved and those who contributed to this fundraiser in memory of a talented rider and friend to so many

Thursday, November 30

Cookstown Burrows Engineering Racing mount a two-pronged attack in 2018

Dubliner Derek Sheils will ride for the John Burrows owned team for a third straight year while joining him in the fold will be rising star Davey Todd from Saltburn, near Middlesbrough, who in 2016 was a race winner in British Superstock 600. Todd burst onto the road racing scene last year with top five results at Skerries before going to Armoy and shocking the establishment with a second place in one of the Supersport races behind Derek McGee before taking his 600cc machine to a superb third in the Superbike race behind Michael Dunlop and McGee, beating William Dunlop in the process. 

The Tyrone based team have Suzuki support for 2018 and Todd will ride one of the latest generation GSXR 1000 machines in the Superbike and Superstock classes as well as having machinery for the Supersport and Supertwins divisions. The 22-year-old from the North East of England will compete in all the Irish National meetings while on the International scene he will debut at the North West 200 and TT events and make a second appearance at the Ulster GP. 

Sheils will not appear for Cookstown Burrows Engineering Racing at the International meetings but will have full support as he attempts to regain the Irish Superbike crown for the team on a Suzuki GSXR 1000. 

John Burrows gave his thoughts about next season: "I'm delighted to have Derek Sheils riding for me again. Unfortunately I won't have his services at the International meetings but he will be with us for the Irish National series and we are both fully committed to getting the number one plate back on the front of the Cookstown Burrows Engineering Suzuki GSXR 1000 on which he has had so many successes over the past two years. "Davey Todd first caught my eye at Skerries and then his talent stood out a mile at Armoy. He rode for us at Killalane where a slow speed crash ruled him out of a top three Superbike finish and the weather robbed him of the chance to shine in the Supertwins race after impressive practice times but he had done more than enough to make me want him to join the team for 2018. "We are a proven team when it come to nurturing talent and I'm excited to have the chance to bring new blood through to the top level of road racing. We have done it before with the likes of Dan Kneen and we will try to make Davey just as successful but without putting undue pressure on him. "I'm confident we will have another great year with Derek and Davey in the saddles and increased involvement from Suzuki as well as continued support from Cookstown." 

An enthusiastic Todd said: "This is the opportunity I have been waiting for and I'm very grateful to John Burrows and his team for giving me this shot! I know I'm joining a very professional team with proven competitive machinery so I'm very excited about my prospects for next season. 

"In the Irish National Championship, I believe with the backing I'll have I can be at the front on a regular basis in the Superbike, 600 and Supertwins classes. On the International front, I'll be a newcomer to the TT and NW200 but I'm preparing hard for those events and when I get to them I'll aim to make progress quickly but stay safe. I feel I can be competitive at the Ulster where last year I lapped at over 125 mph on a 600 machine and was in contention for top six Supersport results until bad luck intervened." 

2016 Irish Champion Sheils said: "I'm happy to have signed with Cookstown Burrows Engineering Racing for another Irish National campaign as I've gelled well with the team over the past couple of years and we all get on and work well together. My aim will simply be to win as many races as possible on the big Suzuki and if I keep doing that the Superbike Championship will look after itself."


Team Owner,John Burrows with new signing Davey Todd
Derek Sheils and Davey Todd at Killalane , Team mates for 2018
Action photo;Baylon McCaughey irishracephotography
Andy Quinn

Tuesday, November 28

Ray Casey Roads and Short Circuit review 2017

When you’re mid-season and you take a serious tumble, or suffer a major mechanical failure you’d be forgiven for writing the year off to regroup and come back stronger. However, when you plan on competing in the Masters, National roads (including the Dundrod 150 and Ulster GP) and 2 weeks beforehand you discover you need a major operation requiring a 6 week recovery period, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the entire season altogether.

On March 12th this year, Ray Casey embarked on this recovery after undergoing a major operation in knee reconstruction, the result of an old MotoX injury. Exactly 2 weeks before the first 3 rounds of the Masters was to take place.

Hardly the ideal start to the season, Ray engaged the services of Thomas O’Flynn, a personal trainer from Persia training, to assist with the recovery which would involve a 6 week stint in a leg brace. A lot of training took place before the operation and this paid dividends as they discovered in the early days of the plan devised by Thomas. This shortened the return to fitness somewhat when in the first week of the plan; they were able to meet targets expected to be achieved in week 6! The end result of the plan was that 12 days after surgery, Ray Casey lined up on the grid of the Masters in Mondello!

Masters review

Even riding with an injury, Ray secured points in almost every round of the Masters series. In fact, not scoring points in the Supersport championship was mostly down to clashing with other events, or poor weather cancelling meetings. Having secured a clean but stock ZX6r Kawasaki, Ray had little in the kitty for major enhancements to the engine or chassis and so left it in the good hands of Shane Wogan to work his magic. A big ask considering the entries that oversubscribe the Masters Supersport pro championship. Factoring in that the top riders have proper sponsors to pay for big power engines and frequent tyre changes, it’s a tall order to fill, grabbing proper points at all!

Even facing the adversity of a stock bike and a less than 100% body, Ray managed to finish a tremendous 5th in the table, only behind 4 riders with impressive machinery and solely focused on one championship. A few extra horsepower and not having to conserve tyres so often would have a guaranteed immediate improvement to the short circuit series results.

National roads review

Ray’s road campaign was set out with a focus of competing in the fastest road race in the world, the Ulster GP. Anything picked up along the way would be a bonus. The build up to the UGP involved entering the Race of the South at Walderstown and a visit to the close by Faugheen circuit. Hopefully this would iron out any issues uncovered going from Short Circuit to Road circuits, as entering the UGP would mean 1 full week away from home practicing, qualifying and eventually racing the UGP and the mid-week Dundrod 150.

First up was Walderstown and it went well, finishing well up the field and collecting points by coming home in 10th. Faugheen was even better with a 5th place, just behind the likes of Derek McGee and Derek Sheils and again valuable championship points scored.

Inclement weather conditions dictated the schedule at Dundrod and when practise ran, qualifying wasn’t far behind and Ray would start from 30th, pretty impressive for a new entrant in a race of 50. Race day eventually beckoned and having made some changes to setup the dummy grid formed. 6 laps of the Grand Prix circuit ensued and Ray picked off a few places arrive some to finish in a very credible 26th, an excellent result for a practically stock bike.

2018 plans

Plans are afoot for 2018 already with hopefully a tuned engine to aid with the increasing top speeds. Another International too, with an entry to the infamous Northwest 200 and all going well, access to a proper Supertwin!

Ray would like to thank the following sponsors for their assistance in 2017.

James Lucey - Gallagher fencing, Brian O’Halloran from Marina Motors, Jason Tivy & co from Lee Motorcycles, Derek Smith DE Electrical Services and Tom O’Flynn from Tom Training Cork.

Words: Andy Quinn

Images courtesy of Andy Quinn, Big Joe Connolly and John Burke